“The Voice.” No, not the popular singing competition. We’re talking about the voice that’s won four Billboard music awards, three platinum records, five gold records and sold 11 million units.
We’re talking about the most awarded female vocalist in contemporary Christian music. Sandi Patty – “The Voice” – is an inductee into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame, a Grammy winner, has released more than 30 albums and won 40 Dove award winner.
“I just have grown up with music. My parents are really wonderful musicians,” says Patty, whose her father was a minister of music and her mother a church pianist. “Church, music, singing – it was just something that was a part of who we were.”
“I came to Indiana to go to college at Anderson University,” she remembers. “I did some singing around town. I studied voice, and I studied piano. I did a lot of jingle work in Indianapolis while I was in school.”
In 1978, Patty released her first album, For My Friends. The record caught the attention of Singspiration! records, and landed Patty her first record deal. Then, in the early 80s, she began singing back up for acclaimed Gospel songwriter and singer Bill Gaither and the Bill Gaither Trio.
“When I began to travel with Bill and Gloria Gaither, that sort of began to open a lot of doors and change the trajectory,” she says. A few years later, when ABC aired the re-dedication of the Statue of Liberty in 1986, Patty sang “The Star Spangled Banner.”
Her patriotic performance put her square in the public eye, landing her appearances on The Tonight Show, Christmas in Washington, Walt Disney’s Fourth of July Extravaganza. In the early 90s she was performing more than 200 shows a year, and was one of the highest paid performers in Christian music.
The turn of the century found Patty reinventing herself. She began performing symphonic pops concerts with the New York Symphony Orchestra, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, and others. She also began regularly hosting the annual Yuletide Celebration with Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra.
She also found success writing prose. Her 2006 memoir, Broken in the Back Row, became a best seller. She’s since written a handful of other books that have been well received, notably Life in the Blender, Falling Forward, Layers, and The Edge of the Divine.
In 2012, the native Oklahoman played to title role in a series of sold-out performances of Hello, Dolly with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra. “I am grateful for the many opportunities God has given in my life and for how He has allowed me to spread my wings,” Patty says. “Singing is my way to tell my story of hope, life, and love.”
Though she’s been going strong for more than 30 years, Patty shows no signs of stopping. She says she’s working on new music, and for the first time in her career, she’s crafting some of her own lyrics.
“I’ve had to rely on other people to help me say what I want to say,” she says. “It’s a whole different thing, songwriting. I really admire gifted songwriters.”
Patty will bring her immense talent to the Honeywell Center in Wabash at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 31. Tickets are $18, $28 and $50.
“It’s more of a musical evening,” she says of the show. “It’s definitely inspirational and Christian. I hope there’s moments of inspiration, moments of laughter, moments of ‘it’s just so good to be together.'”